Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letter to a friend from Shanghai

I am beginning the morning here, as I often do, sensing myself and trying to remember that I am a living, breathing creature in the midst of this life. With all of the other distractions, the compulsions, the fears that beset me — and I think I am like everyone else in these things, as we all have them — this experience of myself is a ground floor.

I remember distinctly the night a few days before I was fired in Georgia in 2001. 

That night, there was no way of knowing that that would happen in a couple of days — although I had some vague idea they were going to get rid of me, it was quite frankly an incredible time — the only time you ever fire someone with my job is in June or July, not just before you book your season in February. 


I went outside and stood in my driveway. This was way out in the countryside and I was surrounded by winter wheat fields, with very few neighbors or lights in the immediate vicinity. (The closest neighbor was a quarter of a mile away.) 

There were clouds scuttling over the moon. 

I looked up and the impression fell very deep into me that, as a living human being, I had the privilege and the ability to be taking this impression, this sight which defines us — a living creature, on a planet, with a satellite, meteorology, and all the other extraordinary things that living implies — and which we usually take for granted — and I had this privilege and ability as an inherent right that no government or employer or ex wife or enemy could ever take away from me.

 No matter what happened, this moment belonged to me.

By this time, I had had my divorce, lost my house, most of my money, the custody of my children. I was about to lose my job, although, as I have just pointed out, I didn't know that. In any event, I was at Ground Zero — or very close to it, one of my inner towers had already been hit by a plane — and able to appreciate that no matter how much you lose, as long as you are still alive, it is your personal right to have hope and to be optimistic. 

No one can take that away from you. The world can destroy everything you have, but until you die, you have the right to be a human being and look at the sky and the moon; to me, that is an enormous thing, because it represents the primary and absolute affirmation of our Being, which is who and what we are.

 The great masters have always said that at the root of our existence is this absolute quality of Being. Each one of us has the privilege of tasting that from time to time during a lifetime; and no matter where we go or what we do, we can rely on this as a truth we carry in us, which touches the soul in places that can't be seen.

Don't know why I'm telling you this now except to say that we are alive today, and we can feel gratitude and satisfaction in that without any shame or hesitation.


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